10 September 2001
The Blueprint is the legendary sixth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released September 11, 2001 on Roc-A-Fella Records in the United States. Its release was set a week earlier than initially planned in order to combat bootlegging. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2001 at Manhattan Center Studios and Baseline Studios in New York City. Contrasting the radio-friendly sound of Jay-Z's previous work, The Blueprint features soul-based sampling and production handled primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze. At the time of its recording, Jay-Z was awaiting two criminal trials, one for gun possession and another for assault, and had become one of hip hop's most dissed artists, receiving insults from rappers such as Nas, Prodigy, and Jadakiss. In spite of its release coinciding with the 9/11 attacks, The Blueprint sold over 420,000 copies in its opening week, becoming Jay-Z's fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified double platinum as sales stand at over two million units in the U.S.
The Blueprint is a landmark release in Jay-Z's extensive catalog, and is consistently ranked among the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Complex Magazine named it the top album of the 2000's and in 2019 The Blueprint was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is also gave producer Kanye West his big break in the mainstream after years working in the Chicago underground scene. West produced four of the album's 13 tracks, namely the lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," as well as the infamous Nas diss "Takeover" and the soulful favorite "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)." 3 years later Kanye released his instant-classic debut album The College Dropout, which included a verse from Jay on the track "Never Let Me Down."
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